Save the Knees! Just Keep Moving!

3526926_origI recently started reading “Alignment Matters: The First Five Years of Katy Says” by Katy Bowman, M.S.* Katy is a biomechanist (she basically studies the structure and function of the human body and how it moves) and the book is a collection of short essays that she wrote on her blog Katy Says. The book focuses on proper alignment of the body and how to move naturally. For someone like me, who makes their living off of conducting people through movement, it’s a wealth of information.

In a section that I recently read Katy cites a research study that basically concludes “Excessive mileage and impact forces are contributing to the increasing levels of osteoarthritis, knee surgeries and knee replacements in the United States”. Basically high activity and high impact exercises are causing damage to the joints, knee cartilage, etc. This is something I’ve always said, and which is why I prefer to move my body through gentle, low impact yet strengthening exercises like Yoga and Pilates.

I know I’ll get grief for this one, but this is one of the main reasons why I’m not a fan of high impact exercises like CrossFit. I’ve watched CrossFit videos and people doing it for years and have always just sat and shook my head. I’ve always said that they may look fit now, but what kind of damage is taking place inside the body? How will the health of their bones, joints, etc be in a few years as they begin to age? Now this recent research is proving what I’ve been saying for years. Not to mention that practically everyone I have known who has done CrossFit has had some sort of injury.

BUT, this post isn’t about CrossFit, it’s about the health of our bones, joints, etc! Katy sums this all up pretty well…”Firstly we need to keep in mind that while “movement” is a physical requirement to physiological function, “exercise” is a modern creation designed to deal with the waning health of our immobile population. Cramming a day’s worth of movement into a one or two hour long intense bout has the same physiological impact of starving yourself all day and then following it up with a 2500 calorie meal. Your body doesn’t work that way!”

Think about it! Most of us spend all day sitting at desks, sitting in cars driving in traffic, then we come home, sit at the table (MAYBE!!) and eat dinner, and then we sit on the couch vegging out on the computer or watching TV. And maybe, just maybe, for a small portion of the population, somewhere in there we squeeze out an hour or two workout. Just think about all that sitting. Your knees, hips, spine, chest, head, etc are all pretty much in the same cramped position all day. Then you go and do a quick workout where you force them to move. Is it any wonder that we have knee, hip, back and neck issues?

I agree with Katy in that we should continue to move throughout the day and in smaller increments and movements. Just keep moving! “It is much better for the health of joints (and surprise surprise, your metabolism) if you move throughout the day as opposed to all at once. The weight loss effect of exercise is the same (in fact, it’s actually easier to lose weight by getting your movement in smaller doses but more often), and your joints have the time to adapt to the loading. Imagine your knees, completely unloaded while you sit in your desk chair/car/recliner and then all of a sudden you get up and start jamming the bones into the cartilage at 3-G forces. Not very considerate”

Find ways to continue to move your body throughout the day. Greet the day with Sun Salutations, take little walking breaks throughout your day at work, take a Pilates class, walk the dog or take a walk as a family after dinner, instead of sitting on the couch watching TV, get on the floor and move. I must admit that I’m a bit of a TV junkie, but I move while watching TV. I lift light weights, do squats and lunges, or I’m on the floor doing Pilates or core work.

Just keep moving!

*Bowman M.S, Katy, “Alignment Matters: The First Five Years of Katy Says”, First Print Edition, 2013, Propriometics Press

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